Things change fast as you acquire power. Rahul Gandhi's idea of inclusiveness suffered a setback within hours of senior Congress leader and now Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Kamal Nath, taking charge.
“BJP ko Congress-mukt Bharat chahiye, humein BJP-mukt Bharat nahi chahiye. Hume kisi se bhi mukt bharat nahi chahiye.” Rahul Gandhi was as sane as he could be in his first press conference after a thumping victory in the Hindi heartland states of Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. The liberal stand that the Congress president re-iterated in the presser has remained so for a long time, even when his party kept losing power.
But things change fast as you acquire power. Rahul Gandhi’s idea of inclusiveness suffered a setback within hours of senior Congress leader and now Madhya Pradesh chief minister, Kamal Nath, taking charge.
Kamal Nath, in his first presser after taking charge as Chief Minister, made a shocking remark: “People from other states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh come here and local people don’t get jobs.” Such statements are often heard from the state of Maharashtra where regional hardliners like Shiv Sena and MNS have kept abusing and threatening people from North India. Offlate, the opposition has even turned it into a formal political agenda and the hate mongering resulted in animosities between the locals and migrants. The Congress and its leader Rahul Gandhi, on the other hand, have remained firmly opposed to such ideology.
Ironically, Kamal Nath who has got employment in Madhya Pradesh as state’s chief minister himself belongs to Uttar Pradesh’ Kanpur, and he made his statement when the locals in the city were still celebrating “their son’s” elevation as head of a neighbouring starte. Ah! That hurts. Well, the statement was not all. Nath was determined with his notion as he signed a proposal which declared that industries will only get the benefits of the many government schemes if over 70 per cent of their workforce comrpises people from Madhya Pradesh.
This essentially means that industries, in order to avail government benefits, should either employ more people from MP, or simply fire those from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and other states. A successful businessman himself, Kamal Nath knows better what industries prefer to do. In both the cases, more people from MP are likely to get jobs – the logic given by the chief minister behind taking this decision.
Undoubtedly, the employment for youth remained the top plank of the Congress. However, Kamal Nath government’s decision is no great step forward. There is a fine difference between creating jobs and protectionism – the first grows your economy, the other raises your vote bank.
Moreover, this decision essentially goes against the idea of tolerance and inclusive India that Rahul Gandhi so passionately champions. Sample the Congress chief’s stand on matters where he slammed the BJP for its divisive agenda in the past.
In a remarkable statement in September, Gandhi had said that one state is pitted against other under PM Narendra Modi’s rule. “Narendra Modi used to say that nothing has happened in 70 years and we will do that in four years. It is true, what he has done in four years has not happened in 70 years. Wherever you see, one Indian is fighting another. Wherever you go, they divide people—one religion with another, one caste with another and one state pitted against the other,” he said.
The Congress president has always appeared against division on the basis of their place of birth. At the time of 26/11 Mumbai attacks, Gandhi had slammed Sena and said that jawans from across the India sacrificed their lives to save Mumbaikars. “Who rescued Mumbai during 26/11? The NSG commandos came to Mumbai’s rescue and most of them came from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh,” Gandhi had said.
Today, Rahul Gandhi must take note of Kamal Nath’s statement in case he is really concerned about implementing the idea of governance he has been advocating. Otherwise, how will he justify the difference between him and BJP next time he wins an election?